There’s a great line in THE DC GUIDE TO WRITING COMICS, where author and editor Denny O’Neal shares one of the cardinal rules for writing popular fiction. “You would rather chew glass than bore the reader.” The best stories grip us by the eyeball and never let go. Check out this opening:
“It isn’t every day you meet a tiger. And certainly not a tiger in a suit and tie. And definitely not one who knows your first name.”
Whoa! Whatever else that opening it is, it sure ain’t boring!
That awesome invitation to adventure is brought to you by Lawrence Yep, and the start of his fantasy series THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE. Yep is an award-winning fantasist who grew up in San Francisco and combines Asian and American history, mythology and culture into stunning fantasies. In THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE, we begin a new adventure with young Tom Lee, a regular kid who just happens to be being taught magic by his grandmother, the last great Guardian of the coral rose, whose magic must be hidden from an ancient enemy. Tom’s not that keen on magic, on fighting, or on getting hurt. But when supernatural threats emerge and steal the rose (a really powerful phoenix in disguise), Tom is forced to take on the challenge of becoming the next guardian under the tutelage of the short tempered but powerful Mr. Hu, who happens to be a magical tiger who can walk like a man and kick more tail than Chuck Norris and Batman combined. Together, they enlist the aid of a cadre of misfit supernatural creatures to get back the rose and forestall the coming doom.
THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE is a high octane adventure, with danger and magic and amazing critters abounding in ways both surprising and familiar. Tom finds it hard to be heroic when he’s by far the smallest, weakest, and less powerful thing surrounded by a world of wonder and danger, and Yep does a great job of making you root for the little guy as he faces his own fears, sadness, and worries. And Mr. Hu is a mentor who, refreshingly, isn’t just a snarling warrior born, but someone who understands the value of compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance. For those of us who have read primarily western-oriented fantasy, Yep’s series is a great introduction to the rich, textured and wild mythologies of Asia (primarily China). Perhaps my favorite stance in the book is that Tom, unlike Harry Potter, starts the story clearly aware that magic is real. On page one, we’re already thrust into his fantasy world. There are wonders on an average of once per page, from the dapper and ferocious Mr. Hu, to magic swords made of coins, to the beautiful and powerful coral rose . . . the enchantment of the work hits you on right from the start and doesn’t let go.
Written primarily for younger (10-13 year old) readers, it’s a great tale for those of use who simply love adventure with beauty and relentless pacing. You won’t be bored for a second!
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